WEIRD NEWS

Professional Mermaid Gets Along Swimmingly With Ocean Sea Life (Mostly)

05/26/2015 05:35 pm ET | Updated May 26, 2015

As a professional mermaid, it's Mermaid Melissa (formerly Melissa Dawn) has the job of looking as convincing as possible to humans -- all while wearing a fish tail that can weigh as much as 60 pounds.

But her tail isn't the only thing that makes her swims dangerous.

  • Mermaid Melissa
    Mermaid Melissa
    Melissa, who has legally changed her name to reflect her career choice, knows she's done her job when the sea life she's swimming with also believes she's a real mermaid -- even if the animals mistake her for lunch.
  • Mermaid Melissa
    That happened to Melissa a couple of weeks ago while working in the Cayman islands.
  • Mermaid Melissa
  • Mermaid Melissa
    "I went to wave at the crowd and a bow-mouthed guitar fish -- a member of the sting ray family -- stuffed my hand in his mouth and crunched my fingers back," she told The Huffington Post.
  • Mermaid Melissa
    "I think he thought I was food by the way I was waving to the crowd and he sucked my entire hand up into his mouth with one strong crunch," she said. "The sound underwater was amplified so it sounded like I cracked all my knuckles at the same time... at least I was hoping it was just knuckles."
  • Mermaid Melissa
    A few weeks ago, she had another close call in the same area off the coast of the Cayman Islands.
  • Mermaid Melissa
    I was swimming at an old shipwreck that was rusted old metal and it was really close call to getting cut by the jagged edges," Melissa said. "I also had to look out for a curious long green eel that was living in the coral near where I was filming underwater. Then I got a jelly fish sting on my arm while diving deep at the mermaid statue because unlike divers, I am not wearing a wet suit."
  • Mermaid Melissa
    Melissa said she came out relatively unharmed, but may have some arthritis for a while.
  • Mermaid Melissa
    Despite the dangers, Melissa enjoys the times when she can paddle out in the ocean since her usual routine has her performing in giant tanks and swimming pools.
  • Mermaid Melissa
    "I think we, as people, have learned that it's better to see animals like dolphins and whales in their natural environments more than in aquariums," she said.
  • Mermaid Melissa
    "I actually am more worried about jellyfish than sharks. Jellyfish are unpredictable," Melissa said.
  • Mermaid Melissa
    "I know the shark's pattern. They're not looking for a giant mermaid that is their size."
  • Mermaid Melissa
    Swimming in the ocean provides great joy to Melissa, but says the currents can get rough at times. She has had to perform in waves as high as 20 feet.
  • Mermaid Melissa
    "I have to make sure I don't get seasick -- yes, mermaids can get seasick," Melissa said.

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